retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, we reported on how the Trump administration is going to court to challenge just-enacted legislation in California that established the toughest net neutrality rules in the country, prohibiting Internet providers from being able to block certain sites and services, slow down web connections, or charge some content providers more for faster delivery of their products.

As we’ve noted here before, the lines between the two sides of the issue have been fairly specific, with content companies like Amazon and Google favoring net neutrality, and distribution companies like Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and Time Warner lobbying for deregulation. But the federal government - under the Trump administration, which has reversed Obama-era rules - has come down firmly on the side of the distribution companies, arguing that a) they need to be able to charge what they want in order to invest in innovation, and b) states ought not be able to have their own internet regulations.

I have argued consistently and persistently that retailers ought to be siding with the internet companies, lest the distribution companies exercise way too much control over how efficiently and effectively they can communicate with online shoppers.

But MN reader Jim Huey wrote:

I certainly don’t know enough about this to be certain of anything. However, what would be the difference between the advantage Walmart, Kroger, and others have by driving down the price of goods from wholesalers? Couldn’t it be argued that this gives Walmart an unfair advantage over small retailers? I work for a small grocer and the way we have been able to compete is by offering excellent service and an increasingly experiential shopping atmosphere. Why would it be unreasonable for the small providers to do the same? The companies mentioned Comcast, AT@T, Verizon, are hardly pillars of service. Just because a company cannot compete on price does not mean they cannot compete.

No, but if I have to choose sides between content providers and distribution companies, I’m going with the content providers.

I thought one of the best arguments made for why retailers need to know why they have skin in this game was made by John Ross, the president/CEO of IGA Inc. We had a long piece about it on MNB, and you can read it here.

Also got the following email on the subject:

For the record I do support net neutrality. However, I am surprised that Amazon falls on the side of favoring net neutrality, as they have been practicing the opposite on their site for quite some time in the form of Amazon Prime. I have been a loyal Amazon shopper for years but for one reason or another have not made the jump to Prime and continue to utilize their free shipping on orders over $25. A few years ago, every order I placed was processed and delivered typically within 2-3 days. But when they introduced Prime they slowed non-prime orders so that the Prime orders would be more special. Nowadays when I place an order, Amazon waits about 4 days to even process my order. They are prioritizing those who are willing to pay more and slowing the speed for those not willing to pay. It seems hypocritical for them to be supporting legislation that prevents other companies from doing the same thing they currently do.

Responding to the video we ran this week illustrating Stephen Colbert’s love for all things Waffle House - even though he does gently poke fun at the brand - one MN reader wrote:

This made my morning. Both of them, simply awesome and both of them simply the real deal. You cannot pay for that kind of PR or loyalty, especially from such talent.

Finally, I know this email wasn’t meant to be funny, but I must admit that it made me laugh out loud. It came from MNB reader Brendan Walker:

Please stop sending emails out at midnight! You’re waking up both me and my wife with my phone and watch buzzing late at night.

I’m really sorry about that. (Don’t your phone and watch have do-not-disturb functions?)

The thing is, when I’m on the road (with travel demands and speaking gigs) and especially on the west coast (as I am for most of the summer), it means that I have to fit MNB in when I can … and sometimes that means posting it an ungodly hours.

Though, to be fair, when I post it at, say, 7 am eastern time, that means someone on the west coast is getting it at 4 am. Never got a complaint, though…and I do call the email the “Wake Up Call.” (Truth in advertising?)

I’m really sorry I’ve awakened you guys from time to time. I really do recommend that do-not-disturb function…
KC's View: